The Department of Public Services and Utilities will be conducting smoke and dye testing in the months ahead to help detect illegal inflow connections to sanitary sewer systems, which can lead to costly repairs for the taxpayer. In advance of this work, the city is embarking on an educational campaign to build awareness around the detrimental impacts of inflow.

Inflow is stormwater (rain or snow melt) that enters the sanitary sewer system. Residents may have an illegal connection, which means stormwater from their property that doesn’t need to be treated is unnecessarily traveling to the wastewater treatment plant, straining the sanitary sewer system.

“When there is heavy rainfall, the sanitary sewer cannot handle the excess flow from inflow,” said Commissioner Ricardo Morales of the Department of Public Services and Utilities. “This leads to sanitary sewer overflows of untreated wastewater into one’s home, street and yard. It also affects the treatment plant’s ability to treat wastewater.”

Once available, smoke and dye testing dates will be shared publicly.

Before testing, homeowners can proactively find out where their drains and downspouts direct stormwater and if they have illegal connections. For more information or to have an engineer inspect a home’s connections, contact the city’s Engineering Department at 413-499-9327.

For a list of stormwater and sewer do's and don'ts, visit

Jeannie Maschino can be reached at 413-496-6256 or

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.